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Full text of "NightRider"

252

her to marry Mm, and she had said, " Maybe, when the time
comes."

"Don't you love me?" he had demanded.

"Yes," she had told him.

"Why won't you promise me, then?"

"No," she had said. "That's like making a dare. It
would be like daring life/'

"That's nonsense."

"It would just be a dare, and I haven't got the nerve, I
just haven't"

"That's nonsense," he repeated. Then he had become
aware that she was weeping. She had wept almost silently,
but he had felt the bed quivering with the force of her
suppressed sobbing. " What's the matter, what's the matter?"
he had demanded.

" Nothing," she had said.

He had put his hand on her face to find it wet with tears.
" Darling, darling, stop it, you must stop it. I didn't think you
were the kind who would ever cry about anything. Darling,
you mustn't," he had insisted, holding his hand on her face,

"I haven't cried in years, not years," she had managed to
say, still sobbing, " but I just can't help it. I can't."

*' I love you, I love you," he had declared. " I promise I'll
love you always/'

"Don't promise"—and the sobbing had choked her—
" anything, ever. Promising means time and I don't want to
think about time; I don't-----"

" Hush, hush," he had said.

Later, moving from the bed toward the door to return to
her room, she had hesitated with her face in the direction of
the window. "Look," she had whispered, pointing. He had
slipped out of the bed and gone to the window. The night
had been unusually dark, the dark mass of the earth scarcely
darker than the sky. But a patch of flame had been on the
horizon, a single centre of rich, cherry-coloured glow fading
outward and upward into the enormous hollow of darkness.
A dog had barked very faintly, very far off.